Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry

Adventures of an American Eagle

In bleak Potosi's inmost cells
Where everlasting Chaos dwells
Small rills of mercury abound
Meandering through the deep profound:
These rills by kindred atoms join'd
By lapse of time grow more refin'd;
Internal heat then adds its pow'r
Till what was fluid flows no more
And the result is golden ore.
Such once I was -- and haply lay,
Nor knew, nor wish'd, for light or day.

A Capac rose, a Capac fell
A thousand fathoms o'er my cell;
And to my dismal dark recess
E'en Spanish thunder could not press.

At length discordant sounds arose
To fright me from my long repose.
I saw the light -- the human face --
And man usurp'd my native place.

Borne from the mine, far, far away
A mass of kindred ores we lay
But stay not long -- Fierce chemic fire
Bid ev'ry drossy part retire
Till at the forceful last essay
A splendid ingot fair I lay.

Commerce now join'd me to its store
And o'er the foaming ocean bore,
Safely within the Mint was flung
Where other changes o'er me hung.
The Die and the terrific Screw
Another form around me threw;
I rose an Eagle fresh and new.

A congress sage of aspect grave
Not over wise nor quite a knave,
Receiv'd me in the shape of pay
(The stipend of a single day)
And bore me to the south away.
Here I was bounc'd and urged through
Adventures rare as well as new.
A man of rice thro' one whole day
Controul'd with undisturbed sway

Poughkeepsie Journal, March 20, 1822

But e'er the dawn of morrows light,
Evanish'd from his purse and sight.
From rice to cotton I was flung:
Then in a Reticule was hung:
My mistress was all smirk all smile
And bore my jingling well a while,
Then in a fit of finery lost me
And to a Canton Crape man tost me:
He grin'd as he receiv'd the treasure
And dropt me in his till at leisure.
Here I lay slumbering out of sight
Two long, long days and one short night
The sherriff came with stern Fi Fa
And bore me from the till away.

How I came there I scarcely know
Or right or wrong 'twas truly so
I found myself with lott'ry Waite
Who long had whirl'd the wheel of Fate
A paltry prize a carman drew
And in his leather pouch I flew
But er he sought his crib of rest
A grocer hous'd me in his nest.

Dandies and Belles by turn carest me
And Feds and Tails by fits possest me.

I'm worn a little I must own
And my first blush of brightness gone;
A little too decres'd in weight
But what is left is sterling plate;
Tho' clip'd and sweated, worn and old
My latest atom will be GOLD.

One little word of moral o'er
And then we part to meet no more.
Pursue me reader if you please
With moisten'd brow or yawn of ease;
Urge on the chase or slow or keen,
Keep conscience clear and fingers clean.

The golden calf of Moab's plain
Was Israel's sin and Israel's shame
Till wiser Moses made them quaff
Their recent God the molten calf.



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